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Scientist from China announced the birth of his first children with edited genes, but did not provide evidence

The hospital, allegedly issuing permission to experiment, denies involvement in the birth of children.

He Jiankui. AP Photo

Chinese researcher Jiankui He stated that as a result of his experiment, the first children with the edited genes came into being. He claims that he instilled immunity against HIV in two twin girls. The scientist spoke about his successes in an interview with The Associated Press, but so far has not provided independent evidence of the work or scientific article.

According to the MIT Technology Review, the researcher changed the embryos of seven pairs during reproductive IVF treatment using CRISPR technology, but so far only one pregnancy has brought results. According to the scientist, his goal was not to cure or prevent a hereditary disease, but to try to instill the ability that ordinary people do not have – to resist HIV infection and develop AIDS.

In the He experiment, all fathers had HIV, while mothers were healthy. He tried to turn off a gene called CCR5, which forms a protein pathway that allows the virus that causes AIDS to enter the cell. What to do with genetically edited children, scientists proposed to solve the public.

After the interview at the South University of Science and Technology of China in Shenzhen, where He worked, they disowned his research. Representatives of the institution said that the scientist had been on unpaid leave since February. In addition, hundreds of Chinese scientists have published a letter criticizing a colleague.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Pandora’s box was opened and we have a chance to close it before it becomes irreparable. These irreversible changes in the genetic material of people who are not sufficiently studied by science will inevitably be mixed with the human gene pool.[/perfectpullquote]
from the letter of Chinese scientists

One of the creators of CRISPR technology, Jennifer Dudna, noted that prior to publication in a scientific journal, the effectiveness of genome editing cannot be considered proven. The main problem of gene editing in humans is that, if passed on to next generations, this may have unexpected consequences.

At the hospital, HarMoniCare, which He claimed to have authorized the experiment, they told TechCrunch that they were not aware of the research of the scientist. Representatives of HarMoniCare promised to check the legality of documents distributed in the media.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]What we can say with certainty is that the gene editing process was not carried out in our hospital. Children were not born here.[/perfectpullquote]
HarMoniCare representatives
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